Monday, February 22, 2016

Lacson vows to push for Php 483-B allotment to LGUs
By John Mark Escandor

PILI, Camarines Sur, Feb. 20 (PNA) -- Making his first sortie in Camarines Sur on Thursday, senatorial candidate Panfilo Lacson wooed local officials in the province with a regular yearly allotment of Php 483 billion from the General Appropriation Act (GAA).

Presenting his legislative agenda before a crowd of about 2,000 local officials from the 35 towns and Iriga City on Thursday, Lacson promised to push for the legislation of a yearly allotment of Php483 billion to provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays all over the country.

“The national government can give every year Php81 billion (Php1 billion/province) to 81 provinces, Php43 billion (Php300 million/city) to 144 cities, Php143 billion (Php100 million/town) to 1,490 towns and Php210 billion (Php5 m illion/barangay) to 42,026 barangays to augment the budget of the local government units,” he said, receiving resounding applause from the local government officials.

Lacson said that since 2002 to 2014 the national government has failed to utilize huge funds allocated in the GAA because the line agencies and bureaus “cannot take more than what they can chew.”

“The question is, why can’t we give this appropriation that the line agencies and bureaus cannot use to the LGUs?” he said.

Lacson cited the Php2.26-trillion national budget in 2014 in which, he said, was the accumulated unused allocation at the Department of Budget and Management, including continuing appropriation and unused appropriation ballooned to Php502.9 billion.

He said the continuing appropriation was an allocated fund not used in the previous year and added into the budget the following year while the unused appropriation is the fund released to the line agencies but was not spent because they have no capacity to implement it.

Lacson said that because of the unused appropriation of Php502 billion in 2014, the 2015 budget of Php2.6 trillion increased to more than Php3 trillion.

He showed that the unused amount from the GAA allocated to line agencies can very well augment the LGUs' budgets for projects and services based on their own priorities.

“This way we can debunk the notion that development is dictated by the Imperial Manila,” Lacson said.

He said that the funds the national government will give the LGUs must not be used for personnel services and maintenance and operational expenses but for development projects only.

Lacson said the problem with the accumulating unused allocation in the GAA was rooted in the absence of consultation with the LGUs on the priority projects they needed in their localities and comprehensive planning on the part of line agencies and bureaus.

He said the result of accumulated unused allocation was realignment of the budget and insertions, which the congressmen and senators control over through the departments for their patronage interest.

Lacson said it also led to huge lump sums in the national budget which became discretionary funds, which were prone to abuse and misuse.

Getting the approval of the local officials here, Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Villafuerte said Lacson’s legislative agenda would further enable the LGUs to determine and expand the development initiatives in their jurisdiction.

Villafuerte said Lacson’s proposal differed from the so-called Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB) that the Liberal Party is espousing because the latter does not provide real independent decision to the LGUs.

He said the fact that the BuB predetermined the projects based on the menu imposed by the national government, it did not necessarily reflect the actual needs in the province.

Villafuerte said the provision of regular allocation from the national government that augmented the local budget covered areas for development that the LGUs would rather not explore because of limited fund resources.

He added that Lacson’s proposal would directly improve the overall domestic production with more projects implemented that would generate greater employment and goods and services produced within their local jurisdiction. (PNA) RMA/FGS/JME/CBD/ssc